Gastroenterology clinic

Hepatocellular carcinoma: the most rapidly rising cause of cancer death in Australia

Simone Strasser



The mortality rate of primary liver cancer, of which hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type, has significantly increased over the past few decades, while that of other cancers has been decreasing.

Article Extract

  • Around the world, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of primary liver cancer, is the sixth most common cancer and the third most common cause of cancer death. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in men. The majority of cases of HCC in the world occur in the Asia–Pacific region.
  • In Australia, the incidence of HCC is rising rapidly, with a 120% increase in incidence between 1991 and 2009. HCC is now the seventh most common cause of cancer death in men in this country, after lung cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, pancreatic cancer, cancer of unknown primary site and melanoma. In Australia, primary liver cancer is the only malignancy to show a significant increase in mortality rate between 1991 and 2010, making it the most rapidly rising cause of cancer death in the country.
  • Some 70 to 80% of cases of HCC are associated with chronic liver disease due to hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Cirrhosis of any cause predisposes to HCC, with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) increasingly being responsible for cases of HCC. Approximately 10% of HCC cases occur in people without cirrhosis, usually in the setting of chronic hepatitis B and possible NAFLD.